Internet phenomenon Sister Hibiscus’ claims of a government clampdown touches off a debate on the impact of new media.
Are you a Chinese Internet phenomenon whose 15 minutes are nearly up, but who isn’t quite ready to go gentle into that good night? Just cry “censorship!” to members of the international press, and they’re likely to come to your rescue, transforming you overnight from marginal freak to free speech poster child.
Dissidence, after all, sells. It’s a packaging strategy that Shi Hengxia, better known to her public as Furong Jiejie (or Sister Hibiscus), hopes will rescue her from an oblivion many in China believe she richly deserves.
Think of Sister Hibiscus as China’s answer to William Hung, the U.C. Berkeley student whose painfully bad American Idol audition won him cult status. Hers, like his, is a fame of the lame. Her now ubiquitous photos and writings contain no nudity, no seditious ideas, no cultist heresies. She’s guilty, at worst, of criminally bad taste and shameless self-promotion.
See also: Rebecca MacKinnon’s comment on the RConversation blog.